For most of my life in the Society I have worked in education, teaching at first in the Society's school in Hammersmith, and later in a large further education college in Croydon where I taught English and Philosophy to 16-19 year olds and held various positions in management. Much of this time was exciting, demanding and fulfilling but by 2010 I was ready for a change. After a period of time re-assessing my priorities, desires, and trying to get into deeper touch with what might be God's call at this stage of my life, I am gradually moving into work that is focussed on activities related to spiritual accompaniment and retreat work.
In 2011-12 I had a hugely enjoyable year as warden/administrator of our house in Oxford where a small community of rscj live alongside - and with - a community of international postgraduate students. I loved this year especially for the enrichment brought to my own life by the contact and conversations with such a vibrant, intellectually and spiritually committed set of people. In September 2012 I moved here to our retreat centre at Llannerchwen - and I'm glad that contacts between the Oxford students and Llannerchwen that we began that year have continued and developed.
My first visit to Llannerchwen was in the early 1980s, arriving on a moonlit winter night and opening the curtains the following morning on a panorama of the Beacons covered in frost. That morning Llannerchwen lived up to its name which, literally, means 'white clearing' and which we loosely translate as 'beautiful, holy glade.' The 'white' which on that first morning was present in the frost, probably refers to the silver birches and alders that were once the main vegetation on the hillside, and which are now largely replaced by fir plantations, though soon they will make a comeback as we have replanted a piece of cleared woodland with native broadleaved species.
Although Llannerchwen is remote, and though there is no commute, no board meetings, no Ofsted to prepare for (all of which characterised my previous life) there is plenty to do. As well as the spiritual accompaniment and retreat work there is a lot of physical work (cooking for retreatants, cleaning, gardening, clearing woodland, recycling rubbish, doing the laundry...). And all of it serves the main focus of the place, which, echoing its name, is to 'clear a space' for God to speak to those who seek him in the peace and the beauty that surrounds us here.
As well as working at Llannerchwen I try to be of service in other ways to the Society. For example I am closely involved in helping to organise upcoming events and conferences celebrating the centenary of Janet Stuart rscj, and I am delighted to share the ongoing fruits of my research into her life and spirituality as occasions arise. I am also a member of the Council at Roehampton University, part of whose roots are in what was once the Society's Digby-Stuart College. On the Council I take a particular interest in whatever can be done to support the University in its work of fostering the highest possible standards in teaching and learning, and the community ethos that is at the heart of its tradition.